The Digital Destruction of Democracy
ANYA SCHIFFRIN JANUARY 21, 2019
Social media is the best friend disinformation ever had, and the cure is far from obvious.
Anya Schiffrin is an adjunct faculty member at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. She worked in Hanoi from 1997 to 1999 as the bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires.
Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics
By Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, & Hal Roberts
Oxford University Press
A Harvard law professor who is a well-known theorist of the digital age, Benkler and colleagues have produced an authoritative tome that includes multiple taxonomies and literature reviews as well as visualizations of the flow of disinformation.
white supremacist and alt-right trolls
a history of the scholarship on propaganda, reminding the reader that much of the discussion began in the 1930s.
Benkler’s optimistic 2007 book, The Wealth of Networks, predicted that the Internet would bring people together and transform the way information is created and spread. Today, Benkler is far less sanguine and has become one of the foremost researchers of disinformation networks.
Fox News, Breitbart, The Daily Caller, InfoWars, and Zero Hedge
As a result, mainstream journalists repeat and amplify the falsehoods even as they debunk them.
There is no clear line, they argue, between Russian propaganda, Breitbart lies, and the Trump victory. They add that Fox News is probably more influential than Facebook.
after George Soros gave a speech in January 2018 calling for regulation of the social media platforms, Facebook hired a Republican opposition research firm to shovel dirt at George Soros.
The European Union has not yet tried to regulate disinformation (although they do have codes of practice for the platforms), instead focusing on taxation, competition regulation, and protection of privacy. But Germany has strengthened its regulations regarding online hate speech, including the liability of the social media platforms.
disclosure of the sources of online political advertising.It’s a bit toothless because, just as with offshore bank accounts, it may be possible to register which U.S. entity is paying for online political advertising, but it’s impossible to know whether that entity is getting its funds from overseas. Even the Honest Ads bill was too much for Facebook to take.
more on the issues of digital world and democracy in this IMS blog
the secret of freedom
the secret of freedom
if we are in a post-truth moment then we need to understand the tools we have at hand to deal with falsehoods.
Tom Dickinson describes four different types of distributed ‘fake news’.
‘Fake news’ is lazy language. Be specific. Do you mean:
C) Conspiracy theory
The RAND Corporation, a US think-tank with strong ties to the military industrial complex, recently looked at the influence of the Russian Propaganda Model and how best to deal with it.
Three factors have been shown to increase the (limited) effectiveness of retractions and refutations: (1) warnings at the time of initial exposure to misinformation, (2) repetition of the retraction or refutation, and (3) corrections that provide an alternative story to help fill the resulting gap in understanding when false ‘facts’ are removed.
Critical thinking requires us to constantly question assumptions, especially our own. To develop these skills, questioning must be encouraged. This runs counter to most schooling and training practices. When do students or employees get to question underlying assumptions of their institutions? If they cannot do this, how can we expect them to challenge various and pervasive types of ‘fake news’?
more on fake news in this IMS blog